Going Greene With Film Festivals

Photos by Rich Schmitt/Staff Photographer

“A Cinderella Story” Producer to Help Independent Filmmakers Gain Exposure at Marina del Rey Event

By MICHAEL AUSHENKER | Contributing Writer

Palisadian Peter Greene has gone from behind the camera producing movies to, well, behind the camera projecting them.

After working on films such as 2004’s “A Cinderella Story,” Greene spent a decade partnering on entertainment industry consultation with Marina del Rey-based Jon Gursha.

Now the pair have segued into the film fest business. Their latest venture, Marina del Rey Film Festival, screens Oct. 17 through 22, when more than 150 films will run across five days.

Films to appear at the Cinemark at The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center will include narrative and documentary films, shorts, even experimental and the odd animated film.

“We’re not genre specific,” Greene said. “We’re celebrating independent films.”

While it may be the festival’s mise en scene, Marina del Rey is not the films’ motif, Greene said. In other words, the program is not limited to local filmmakers.

“We screen films from all over the world,” Greene said, with an emphasis on Southern California cinema. Yet one film, “Blue,” was submitted from Australia.

“There’s an explosion of student films out there,” the Palisadian continued. “They’re looking to exhibit their films in a nice theater with great projection and sound. That is a big part of our festival’s mantra.”

Greene added that he and Gursha insist on keeping admission fees to an industry low of $25 per submission.

Across four years, Marina del Rey Film Festival has come a long way from year one, when they projected the program in a humble room within the Courtyard Marriott (today Hotel MdR A Double Tree by Hilton) in 2014.

Prior to managing film festivals, Gursha and Greene, who had Hollywood experience producing films, partnered to form a Marina del Rey-based producing and distribution consultation firm. Since the launch of their first film festival, the pair is now responsible for Culver City Film Festival, Silicon Beach Film Festival in Playa Vista, Golden State Film Festival (which just took place in West Los Angeles in September and will change locations throughout California each year) and two recent ones in Las Vegas (debuting earlier this year) and Miami (now on year two).

“It’s become a huge part of our business,” he said.

Born and raised in New York and a graduate of Syracuse University, Greene said he applies the skills and work ethic he learned making such fare as “Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction” to organizing film festivals.

“When you’re producing,” he explained, “you’re the first in and the last out.”

Ultimately, Greene wants to connect audiences with movies that intellectually and aesthetically challenge the viewer in ways that studio tentpoles cannot.

“It’s a great way for independent filmmakers to get their exposure,” he said.

Greene and his wife, Ivy, who locals may know from her long-running store Ivy Green for Kids on Via De La Paz, have lived in the Palisades for 23 years now. They have a son, 22, and a daughter, 17, who is a senior at Palisades Charter High School.

So what about a Gursha and Greene film festival set in their own backyard?

“I would love to do one in the Bay Theatre,” Greene said.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit marinadelreyfilmfestival.com.